Sunday, February 17, 2008

Helping With Year 1 Homework - An Appeal

OK, I'm a rocker. You all know this. As much as I'd like to claim a wide range of musical tastes and awareness, every so often I have to go back to the above admission.

So when DarceysSis came home from school and said "Dad, we're doing Pavarotti at school" I -
(i) resisted the obvious necrophilia joke - she is only six!
(ii) realised I wasn't going to be much help.

Apart from a dodgy version of Nessun Dorma, the only track I own with Signor Pavarotti's powerful tenor on is this one, from the Passengers (U2/Eno) soundtrack:



She loves this, so much so it has become something of a bedtime comforter when she can't sleep (no jokes, please, I'm serious).

What I need is an introduction to opera for both of us: something with individual tracks short enough to hold the attention of a child whose other current obsession is High School Musical, but powerful enough to appeal to a bloke whose normal fare ranges from Mark Hollis' minimalism to wall-of-sound guitar powerchords. If it is specifically by the recently-deceased ex-goalkeeper, so much the better.

To reveal the full extent of my ignorance, and curiosity, below are the only other two songs with vaguely operatic vocal contributions that I (know I) own. I absolutely love'em both.





Give me some tips please, even if it is for compilations an opera-loving purist would find cheesy. I've decided this is the opportunity to travel a new road!!

Thanks.

18 comments:

DarceysDad said...

Sorry everyone, my PodBean songs keep coming up with no titles. The latter two songs are Damien Rice's Eskimo and He Lays In The Reins from the Iron & Wine / Calexico collaboration.

goneforeign said...

DD; OK, for starters go to rhapsody.com and sign up for their 'free' package, this will give you 25 plays per month and they could be 2 minute plays or 20 minute plays. Be careful when you're starting out because everything you click on plays and deducts from your 25, you could be down to single digits before you know it. Once you're signed up do a search on Puccini, he's the most melodic and easiest to like of all opera. You'll get dozens of albums come up, sort through them looking for a highlights album and when you click on it it will reveal all the cuts, a click on any will play it. I'd recommend La Boheme for starters. Or you could do a search on Three tenors or Pavarotti, either way you'll come up with dozens of selections.
I remember last year mentioning the Wiretap recorder on RR and you asking if there was a PC equivalent, if you have one anything the plays on your computer can be recorded with one click and burned to CD if necessary. Check my movie posts, they all came from rhapsody. And check my post of Cavalleria Rusticana, a beautiful and melodic opera, the intermezzo is without voice. OK, hope that helps for starters, ask if you need more.

Mnemonic said...

I have a double disc compilation of Maria Callas that I will happily burn. Send me your address on e-mail and I'll send it on.

A full opera that's fun to start with, if DarceysSis gets keen, is Carmen. Good plot, lots of lovely tunes, dashing heroine etc.

nilpferd said...

I'd agree re. Carmen, the film with Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes Johnson is great. I normally hate opera, too boheme for my tastes, but Nilpferd Jr. has had a lot of pleasure since age 5 or so with the Little Amadeus series, not sure if it's on english TV though. This completely without any prompting from her parents, initially I thought the series was going to be crap but it's a perfect blend of history and the sort of themes a 6 yr old girl finds fascinating. There's a great CD- again, not sure if it's available in english- with an overview of Mozart's works, including his operatic work, with commentary by the young actor who plays Mozart in the cartoon series. It's a nice blend of fun and information, and I've been surprised how good some of Mozart's work was- hearing it out of the context of a serious radio station somehow enhances the pop aspect of his music. and there's no denying that my daughter got into it on her own. Check out the website perhaps, there are some nice online games there too.
http://www.little-amadeus.de/index.php?lang=en

nilpferd said...

Oh, and GF- sadly I think Rhapsody is US resident only, at least when I tried to sign up I got a message to that effect.

glasshalfempty said...

Like much of the best music (and food), opera is an acquired taste. But once you're into it, it's sublime. And one of the things I miss about not having kids is the musical directions they take you.
Anyway, a few things that might help. First, you could try http://www.classiccat.net/
for free downloads.
Second, most decent libraries have both Cds to borrow, and short booklets summarising each opera (that the linguistically challenged like me take to the opera when it's not sung in English - and even when it is, given the incomprehensible nature of most sung words). The story lines are usually pretty naff, but at least you get to understand what's going on. Many are tragic, so depends on DarceySis' sensibilities whether you would rather start with comedies like Cosi Fan Tutti
If you want take DarceysSis to see some opera live, cheap, accessible performances all over the country are done by Ellen Kent productions, using East European companies, often with real horses to keep a child's interest! Check www.ellenkent.com.
There are zillions of cheap 'best of' CDs - I have "The Greatest Opera Collection" a 10 CD box set by Masters Music of Holland which I got new for a tenner.

Hope this helps!

steenbeck said...

The Magic Flute is a nice fantastical story for kids, I liked it when I was little.(And it's sung in German, isn't it, Nilpferd?) I think Marriage of Figaro has the prettiest singable songs, and also a fun plot. I like Mozart. You could always try What's Opera Doc, by Sir Bugs BUnny. It's on youTube.

steenbeck said...

Actually I just looked over on youTube, and it seems Kenneth Branagh's directed an English language version of Magic Flute that looks like a lot of fun and relativelly kid-friendly...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGMz8OlunO0

Otherwise there seem to be a lot of clips of different operas on youTube that will probably be individual arias, so you can click around and see what she likes.

nilpferd said...

DD, try this cd perhaps- seems to be well received.
http://www.german-bookworld.com/us/shop.php?c=germanmusic&n=173425&i=B00000J29D&x=The_Classical_Child_at_the_Opera

The "little Amadeus präsentiert Mozart für Kinder" cd I mention above seems to be German only- but is still a good intro to Mozart, the spoken German isn't very long between each piece and perhaps adds colour, as it's spoken by the child actor who voices Mozart in the cartoon series.
Steenbeck- Magic Flute is charming and in any case better than the opera I was exposed to as a child- Wagner.

goneforeign said...

Now, when the topic for RR is opera we're expecting big things from DD!
All good info, I'll second Carmen, lovely melodies and there's at least one good film that uses it as a plotline and uses the music.
re. rhapsody, I've mentioned it to an English friend who's used it but he's also said that he occasionally gets messages like Nilpferd mentions. Try it.

DarceysDad said...

WOW! Thank you all. I've just checked in before clocking off, but hopefully can start to follow up on this lot after the girls are in bed tonight. Looking forward to it.

:o)

TracyK said...

Personally, I'm also a little iffy about opera too, but I do like Puccini and Mozart. How about Malcom McLaren's version of Madame Butterfly (I'm sure FP will back me up on that one!) There's a very cute little home animation of it here on Youtube, though maybe a bit adult for your little 'un, what with the naked dolls thrashing around!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbsNwT5FnsE
How about some of the sillier tracks from Gilbert and Sullivan too, like Three Little Maids From School from The Mikado or With Catlike Tread from Pirates of Penzance? Great performance of the former here: child friendly!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqlBoqclC04

Frogprincess said...

I totally and utterly back you up on Maclaren's version of Madame Butterfly. I LOVE it. Shouldn't be allowed! Sacriledge! And i love the sweaty video too. I used to go to the beautiful roman baths in Baden Baden and pretend I was in THAT VIDEO. Sad but true.

Frogprincess said...

But on a serious note - get her listening to Papageno's arias in The Magic Flute and the duo between Papageno and Papagena is very pretty too. Leave the Wagner for later, shall we....?

Frogprincess said...

And win som cool points for the wee 'un with this unlikely combination: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei1Sl7RAmzw

TracyK said...

I've been watching some G&S on Youtube and there's a fab version of Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Kline magnificently chewing the scenery in, she might like the over-the-top qualities of it! There's a lovely Three Little Maids from Mike Leigh's Topsy Turvy too, which I haven't seen, but being a wee girl she might be equally ravished by the goreous -and apparently authentic- costumes in it.
I wish I could swan about in Baden Baden...doesn't that mean Bath Bath?

TracyK said...

Oh, and the Flower Duet and Rossini's Cat Duet might be appealing for Darcey'ssis, I know I enjoyed them when younger.To branch out into a little classical, how about Troika from Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije? It's commonly called Sleighride and you hear it a lot around Christmas!

DarceysDad said...

@ Mnemonic - Discs for DarceysSis arrived safely: we'll have a listen together over this weekend.

@ Everyone else - I've copied all of the links over, but haven't had the opportunity to try any yet.

But we will ...

Thanks a lot, and I'll let you know how we get on.

:o)